R-1 Visa (Religious Visa)

Individuals who wish to enter the United States as non-immigrants and work there for religious purpose are required to have a R1 visa. R1 visa is also given to an applicant who is offered a job for religious work by any US organization.


To be eligible for a R1 visa, the individual needs to fulfill the following:

  • The applicant must be of foreign origin.
  • The applicant must be a member for the last 2 years in a religious denomination. This religious denomination should be a nonprofit organization and have its presence in the US.
  • If the applicant wants to work for a religious organization in the US, then the organization must file a petition (Form I-129) on behalf of the candidate. This form must be submitted to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). On approval, the applicant can start with the application process.

Application Process

The following steps explain the application process of a R1 visa:

  1. The applicant needs to fill the DS-160 online form. The applicant must read through the guidelines before filling in the application form. Once the application form is submitted no further changes are allowed. In case, the applicant requires any assistance they may consult an immigration lawyer or a translator. This DS-160 form is required to book an appointment.
  2. Once the DS-160 form is filled, next step is to pay the visa fees. Before paying the visa fees, the applicant must look for its countries participation in the Visa Waiver Program. There are various banks who take visa fee via their cash counters. Visa fees can also be paid online. For more details on which banks take visa fees and how to make payment check the link: http://www.ustraveldocs.com/in/in-niv-paymentinfo.asp
  3. After the visa fee payment the applicant is ready to schedule an interview for visa appointment. The applicant needs to login to their profile to pay the visa fee. Once logged in the applicant can schedule an appointment. Applicant needs to schedule two appointments—one the Visa Application Center (VAC) and another, the visa interview at the Embassy or Consulate. During the interview at Embassy or Consulate, finger prints and photos are taken of the applicant. The appointment for the interview at the Embassy or Consulate must be at least one day prior to the visa interview. The following three information is need to fix an appointment:
    • Applicants Passport number
    • The date of payment of fees
    • The 10-digit bar number code from the DS-160 confirmation page
  4. When the applicant is at VAC they need to carry the following documents:
    • A passport which has at least a validity of six months from the date of travel
    • Form DS-160 confirmation page
    • Appointment confirmation page
    • One photograph as per visa specification
  5. During the visit to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate the following documents are required:
    • Printed copy of appointment letter
    • DS-160 confirmation page
    • Current and old passport
    • All supporting documents

In case you are denied a visa, all the above process needs to be followed again.

Supporting Documents

The following supporting documents are required while applying for a R1 visa:

  • An authorized letter from the religious organization for which the applicant is employed. It should state that the applicant is a part of the organization for the past two years and reside outside of the U.S.
  • In case of ministers, the organization must authorize the applicant in written to conduct religious worship and a detail agenda of the worship.
  • The applicants must have at least a baccalaureate degree or its equivalent
  • The applicant should produce the name and location of the specific organization


The application fee for a R1 visa is $190. This is a one-time fee and non-refundable.

Application Form

In order to apply for a R1 visa, DS-160 application form needs to be filled. It is an electronic form provided by the US government and has to be completed online.

Rejection Reasons

An applicant could be refused a R1 visa because of the following reasons:

  • One could be incomplete documents
  • If an applicant did not demonstrate to the officer's satisfaction that meets the qualifications for the visa category
  • The planned activities in the US are allowed by that category
  • Producing fake documents during the interview process


Total duration of R1 visa is 5 years. This 5 years is broken down into two halves—initially it is provided for 3 years and later it can be extended for another 2 years. For the extension period, the individual will have to fill Form I-129

Visa holder whether qualified to apply for other visas & Citizenship

After an applicant is granted a R1 visa, they can:

  • Apply for a Green Card
  • Apply for R2 dependent visa. R2 visa is for spouse and unmarried children below the age 21 years. No work is allowed on R2 visa.  
  • Earn salary for their religious service
  • Enroll in studies in the U.S. 

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